Old Wives Tales

James Waddick jwaddick@kc.rr.com
Tue, 04 May 2004 11:26:59 PDT
>I cannot cite a publication on the benefits of leaving bulbs to seed, but
>empirical testing and observation will bear it out. A private correspondent
>calls deadheading an old wives' story, and to my mind it is what I call a
>'Gardener's Boy' job, invented by head gardeners to keep idle hands busy,
>but not strictly necessary.

Dear all;
	I tend to agree with John about some long time practices 
which do not make ecological or biological sense. People here still 
braid daffodil foliage weeks before they are ready to go dormant, mow 
herbaceous peony foliage when it isn't attractive and cut iris fans 
down to stubs in July.

	Even as foliage on all these go dormant they are still 
processing sugars back into the roots and even ragged foliage may 
still be photosynthesizing.

	Logically why should seed production be so harmful to bulb 
development? The longer it takes to produce seed, the longer foliage 
is present in general and that has to a goods thing to over all 
energy production. If seed production were harmful, why would bulbs 
produce so much seed when they could vegetatively propagate as well. 
And it also figures that sterile hybrids would be even more 
vigorously and propagate more readily by vegetative means - both 
larger and more bulbs and divisions.
	I hope I am not suggesting that there are instances which 
might work either way (pro or con), but I think dead heading is 
mostly done for reasons of aesthetics not for its biological impact 
and for control of too vigorous seeding about.

	Does someone have empirical data pro or con?

		Best	Jim W.
Dr. James W. Waddick
8871 NW Brostrom Rd.
Kansas City Missouri 64152-2711
Ph.    816-746-1949
E-fax  419-781-8594

Zone 5 Record low -23F
	Summer 100F +

More information about the pbs mailing list